Korea Minting, Security Printing and ID Card Operating Corporation (KOMSCO) is a corporation owned by the South Korean government. It strikes the country’s coins and prints banknotes, as well as other government documents. The corporation’s headquarters is located in Daejeon, South Korea. Over the past few years, the Mint has emerged on the global scene with its new gold and silver bullion products. Countless collectors have taken strongly to these new series. They provide unique options from Asia, the numismatic space of which has long been dominated by the China Mint.
A Brief History of the KOMSCO Mint
KOMSCO was founded in 1951 during the Korean War. It was responsible for creating currency for the Republic of Korea, a particularly important and challenging undertaking given North Korea’s propensity for counterfeiting currency. It was also tasked with the production of other national security products. Over time, its mandate expanded to include paper printing and stamped products, passports and identity cards, recognition devices, banknotes, and other security elements.
In 1970, KOMSCO began producing banknotes, coins, paper products for banknotes, inks, and passports. Since then, it has provided these products to more than 40 countries. Among the many countries for which the Mint has struck coins are Libya and Thailand.
Over the past 20 years, the Mint has produced two award-winning coins. The first was a 30,000 won gold coin struck for the FIFA World Cup. Korea co-hosted the event with Japan in 2002. The coin features soccer players in different states of play. Four years later, KOMSCO produced a 20,000 won silver coin for the 560th anniversary of Hangeul, the Korean alphabet.
Chiwoo Cheonwang Medal Series
KOMSCO's Chiwoo Cheonwang medal series drives the Mint’s current surge in popularity. The series that celebrates the Korean war god of victory has wide-ranging appeal, including for those who like coins with mythological themes. The central figure’s status also serves as an inspiration to those engaged in their battles in life. Sports fans will appreciate the soccer connection, as Chiwoo cheonwang is the mascot of the Red Devils, the South Korean national team. Perhaps more than anything, though, the medals provide a window into the culture of a country that was long relatively unknown in the West but has grown in global influence in finance, industry, and culture since hosting the Summer Olympics in 1988.
It is also known for its low mintages and security features that go far beyond what is found in most other bullion issues.
Tiger Medal Series
In 2016, KOMSCO introduced its Tiger medal series. The series offers stunning looks at one of nature’s most powerful animals. The styles vary annually, which gives collectors something new to look forward to with each new release.
The series debuted with just a proof coin in 2016, although that has been the only proof issue in the series to date. In 2017, an uncirculated issue followed. Since 2018, both gold and silver pieces have been issued annually.
Phoenix Medal Series
KOMSCO is releasing a new silver medal in 2020. The Bonghwang, or Phoenix, is held in a different regard the East than it is in the West. Known in the West for rising from the ashes, the bird is often depicted with the dragon in Eastern culture. In the East, it stands for virtue, prosperity, and beauty. A creature called “Bulsajo” represents similar themes in Eastern culture to those represented by the Phoenix in the West.
The new medal’s obverse features a double-phoenix design commonly used by the South Korean Mint, while the reverse shows the bird spreading its wings. The one on the reverse holds an orb that is believed to make all things better in its beak. Along with it is a security feature that includes Korean writing.
Although KOMSCO has a rich and distinguished history, it is only in the past few years that the series has begun to take its place among the preeminent world mints. Its commitment to security and unique themes that offer insight into a country that is growing in global influence is making its relatively new gold and silver products extremely appealing among savvy collectors. As impressive as the Mint’s debut on the bullion scene has been over the past few years, collectors can expect that the best is yet to come from this emerging Asian power.